When Steve Patterson was hired as Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics and Athletics Director a few weeks back, he pulled no punches in his opening press conference, describing not only where his program was, but where he saw it going.
Patterson told reporters that day:
“I don’t believe that we can’t compete. I am committed to making Arizona State University consistently a nationally elite athletics program that just takes names and wins championships.”
My initial response?
Oh wait, he was serious?
In Patterson’s defense, it really isn’t his fault I feel that way. The truth is, he’s just the latest in a long line over-ambitious and underperforming coaches and administrators who come to Arizona State with big dreams, only to leave with unfulfilled promises. His statements weren’t all that different from ones we’ve heard 100 times before, from a 100 different people, yet it seems like as much as things change in Tempe, they ultimately stay the same. For whatever reason, Arizona State has become college football’s sleeping giant that simply refuses to be woken up.
Only time will tell whether Arizona State reaches their potential under Patterson’s watch. But so far, he at least deserves an A for effort.
That’s because on Wednesday, he and head football coach (for the moment) Todd Graham revealed the school’s ambitious plan to renovate Sun Devil Stadium, ASU’s home football facility. The plan is still in its infantile stages, but just looking at the drawings, Patterson clearly means business. Below, is an artist’s rendering of what the stadium could look like.
First, the obvious: I’ll be the first to admit that when I saw the artist’s renderings (above), I thought they were joke. Like an actual, “you-can’t-be-serious, is-this-still-April-Fools-Day” joke. As someone who lived in Tempe for a short time in my life, the renderings look nothing like the current Sun Devil Stadium. If anything, they look more like a futuristic football stadium built in the year 2127, when the NFL finally moves the Jaguars out of Jacksonville, and to the moon.
Apparently Patterson is serious though, and when the renovation is completed, it could completely transform the Arizona State football program as we know it.
According to Arizona State’s press release, the biggest addition would be a shady canopy that would allow natural sunlight into the stadium, but block out the oppressive Arizona sun. As things stand, it is simply too hot to play early afternoon games in Tempe in September and even parts of October, meaning the canopy would allow for early afternoon kickoffs that simply aren’t feasible right now. The early kickoffs would help accommodate the new Pac-12 Network’s TV schedule.
As for other changes to the stadium, the renovations would also include adding a state-of-the-art video board and sound system, and would reduce the seating capacity from just over 71,000 to somewhere between 55,000 and 65,000. For anyone who watched Arizona State football last year, you know that the lost seats won’t be missed.
And finally, there are the construction plans and costs, which frankly seem a long way from being totally figured out.
No price-tag has been put on the project, but it seems safe to assume that a lot of the funding for this project will come from the Pac-12’s new TV contract, which put a whole lot of coin into every conference school’s pockets. As you may remember, it was right around this time last year that Pac-12 commissioner/resident college football genius Larry Scott secured the conference a 12-year contract, a deal which will net each member school approximately $20.8 million a year…just for the rights to broadcast their football games. While it’s impossible to confirm, it seems pretty safe to say that this project couldn’t have taken place without the additional capital.
It’s also important note that no firm start date has been set, and no one is quite sure what will become of the Arizona State football program in the intermediary. Patterson mentioned at his press conference that two options exist; one which would allow the team to stay in Sun Devil Stadium while construction took place, another which would displace them (presumably to University of Phoenix Stadium where the Arizona Cardinals play) for a year.
Safe to say, Arizona State football is making moves.
Only time will tell if it’s enough to awake the sleeping giant.
For all his insight, opinions and articles on sports, be sure to follow Aaron Torres on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.